- Tue, 2009-05-05 09:26
With an Out of Space fancy dress theme, headliners including Kraftwerk, Massive Attack, Elbow, Lily Allen and MGMT, DJs including Diplo, DJ Yoda, Zane Lowe and Skream, plus a new layout, a fire show and much more intergalactic madness than a NASA launch party hosted by The Jetsons with R2D2 on cocktail duty, Bestival 2009 – The Year of The Spectacular, is an all encompassing festival experience not to be missed.
Now in its sixth year Bestival has won numerous awards, become a firm favourite with many for its environmentally friendly, old-school-festival atmosphere and above all else, for its incredible line up. Set up by Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank and his wife Josie, 2009 will see 30,000 fans make their way to Robin Hill Country Park on the Isle of Wight, fully equipped with forests, lakes, secret paths, a 400m toboggan run, a 28 seat motion platform cinema and Colossus – a huge swinging pirate ship.
I Like Music climbed aboard a UFO with Rob Da Bank to chat about his festival baby, what Bestival 2009 has in store, secret raves, musical adventures and lesson number one in the festival rule book.
"I Like Music because… I can't imagine a world without it. To me it is perfect escapism. You can read a book, go on holiday but music for me has got something so primal about it, it takes you out of this hum drum life.” Rob Da Bank
ILM: What’s Bestival all about?
Rob: I know that we've created something different. Glastonbury has always been a lot of fun, but apart from that, a lot of festivals just became 'Beer and Music.' We've tried to inject a load of eccentric madness into it, whether that's the fancy dress, the inflatable church, or all the mad things going on around the site.
ILM: What musical gems can we expect from Bestival 2009?
Rob: I really went for it in terms of the bigger end of the bill! We've got six or seven people that could possibly have headlined; Massive Attack, Kraftwerk, MGMT, Fleet Foxes, Seasick Steve, Lily Allen! Plus there are lots of acts booked that seem to be on the verge of doing great things. I hope people trust my judgement!
ILM: Any other new additions…?
Rob: We've called it 2009 The Year of The Spectacular. We have a three day, mad fire show called Blastival! It's a story about a guy trying to get to the moon. He'll have a space rocket and throughout the weekend the story will unfold. That's happening in a new place called the Fire Field, the field where the main stage has always been.
ILM: So you’ve moved the site around?
Rob: Yup! Bestival is going to look completely different this year!
ILM: Setting a festival up must be tricky, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
Rob: They're actually really hard work! Festivals are so expensive. We try to keep it as good as it can be and either break even or make a bit of a profit. I know for a fact that amongst the independent sector and all my peers, Big Chill and Secret Garden for example, that people aren't making money. I mean, yes we make a living out of it, but we don't have private jets!
ILM: You don’t?
Rob: No! The myth that most festival organisers drive round in a Rolls Royce with a pile of bank notes isn't true!
ILM: You must have seen some crazy things at Bestival?
Rob: So many! The first year we didn't really get to grips with who was going to work over night. People were just setting up random sound systems in the forest and generally just running riot! It was total bedlam!
ILM: Did you stumble across any secret raves that you didn’t want to stop?
Rob: Yeah! I mean, that's the story of Bestival! I'd love to get a big jug of cocktails and sit there in the sun and listen to everything but there is always a radio going off in my ear with problems and things. I never get to enjoy it as much as I could. I'm not complaining of course! It's still the best fun in the world!
ILM: Had you always wanted to start your own festival?
Rob: Me and my wife Josie took our cue from Glastonbury. We spent a lot of summers down there together. If we hadn't been to Glastonbury and we hadn't hosted stages there, I don't think we'd have felt that we could do something ourselves. We thought that maybe we could throw a little party of our own. We never envisaged that it would get to the size it has, or even still be going!
ILM: You’re a man of many talents. What is your advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
Rob: I started all of this about 12 million years ago with a tiny little club night. I was a music journalist and I never relied on it full time. Even now I have my fingers in so many pies; the record label, the publishing company, the festival, the DJing. If you want to be a DJ or you want to be a promoter, it's good to have your feelers out for more than just one thing. The more contacts you can make, the more you're in people's faces, running a label, running a club night, doing a blog, the more you can do the better.
ILM: What is your greatest festival moment?
Rob: Cochella 2004. I drove across the desert in this big van with some mates. We saw Radiohead one night and The Cure the next. Two of my ideal festival bands and favourite bands ever! Watching them under a massive desert sky, I'll always remember that!
ILM: Moving on to your DJing, is there one track that seems to be finding its way into all of your sets at the moment?
Rob: Ummm. Probably the Skream mix of La Roux. A lot of people are picking up on that now. Also L-Vis 1990. He's just done a remix of La Roux’s In For The Kill as well which is absolutley amazing. He does this style called Hyper-bass which is really heavy bass line electro, but it's really good. I love all his stuff. Also the Kotchy remix of Empire Of The Sun. I really like Empire Of The Sun, I like my poppy pleasures! Also Kotchy is a brilliant dubstep producer.
ILM: Are you working on any of your own tunes at the moment?
Rob: Yeah. I made an album last year under the name Ladyboy which I have been doing for a few years. But it’s just time you know? We made it at the beginning of last year but we haven't done much with it. We're sending it out to vocalists at the moment. Ian McCulloch has just agreed to do a track. And Alex from Franz Ferdinand is going to do one with us! It's taking shape slowly.
ILM: How would you describe its sound and vibe?
Rob: I mean it's just a mish mash of my DJ sets and radio shows. It's a bit Indie, a bit Reggae, a bit electro....
ILM: Woah..wicked! Haha!
Rob: It's a self explanatory record really. It's just us messing around in the studio. We're not trying to sell heaps of records or anything, or do one particular thing. We're just c**king around really! Haha!
ILM: What's been your most recent musical discovery?
Rob: Hmmm. Good question. It's not really what you're asking for. But I've been thinking a lot about how little I'm going record shopping. Which is kind of sad. I used to go twice a week. I'm getting sent hundreds of emails a week with tons of new stuff. So I suppose my most recent musical discovery is that the world is going online. I know that sounds stupid, it's kind of obvious, but with every week, every month that goes past it just becomes more and more obvious to me. I don't need to go record shopping. That is a really strange situation for me to be in. It's slightly sad. I just think I've suddenly come to terms with the fact that we are going purely digital and it is going to happen faster than I've been thinking.
ILM : Yes. There’s a real love hate relationship between the music industry and the internet…
Rob: Yeah, I agree. The trouble is that record shops were already having a bit of a struggle and then the recession comes and people spend less and less on little luxuries. From the point of view of a working DJ who budgets to have money each week to buy records for my set, you always go out to records shops and get new stuff. Unfortunately all this stuff is now just sent to me. It's there in my inbox. I don't need to leave the house to get it. I mean you can go to Rough Trade, which has always been one of my favourite record shops, and you're still going to get things that you can't get anywhere else, but it's whether a more occasional browser would bother with that.
ILM: Well, with your computer everything is much more accessible. Whether that will ever replace the hard copy, the packaging, the artwork, the physical object, I don’t know…
Rob: Hmm. Me neither. I wouldn't want to own a chain of record shops at the moment.
ILM: Out of all the live gigs you've ever seen, which will you never forget?
Rob: Seeing The Pixies for the first time at Portsmouth Guildhall when I was 15 or 16, then hanging out backstage in school uniform and meeting Frank Black and Kim Deal. That's something I'll never forget! Meeting my heroes!